Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley believes that not only did Vice President Dick Cheney "unambiguously" confess to a war crime during an ABC interview on Monday, but the US' future as a nation may depend on taking action.
Asked by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann whether Cheney had just confessed to a war crime on national television, Turley at first replied wryly, "It's an interesting question, isn't it? ... If someone commits a crime and everyone's around to see it and does nothing, is it still a crime?"
"It most certainly is a crime to participate, to create, to in many ways monitor a torture program," he added. "What [Cheney] is describing is most certainly and unambiguously a war crime."
During Monday's interview, Cheney was asked, "Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohamed?" and replied, "I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared."
"What happens if the next administration does not press this?" Olbermann asked. "Do we let the International Court at the Hague come in and take over all our responsibilities for policing our own act here?"
"That's what worries me the most," Turley replied, "is that you can't talk about change without having some moral component to it. It's not just about creating jobs or lowering the price of gasoline."
"What occurred in the last eight years was an assault on who we are," Turley said. "I think that President-elect Obama's going to have to decide whether he wants power without principle or whether he wants to start with a true change, to say that no matter where an investigation will take us, if there are crimes to be found they will be prosecuted."
"It will ultimately depend on citizens, and whether they will remain silent in the face of a crime that's been committed in plain view," Turley concluded. "It is equally immoral to stand silent in the face of a war crime and do nothing, and that is what the citizens are doing. There's this gigantic yawn."
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Dec. 16, 2008.